How does this Kentucky team compare to the others of the John Calipari Era in key statistical areas? In some ways, they’re the best; in others, the worst.
In the game notes each week, the UK Athletics staff puts together a chart comparing the ten teams of the Calipari era through whichever number of games the current team has completed, so, as of today, fourteen. Knowing one of this team’s weaknesses, I added opponent three-point percentage to the data:
(Click to enlarge)
As you can see, the numbers tell us some interesting stuff. Let’s start with the good.
Free Throw Percentage: 75.9% – Highest of the Calipari Era
The one area this team is better than any other is free throw percentage. Currently, the Cats are making 75.9 percent of their free throws, by far the best of the Calipari Era. The next closest team through 14 games was the 2011-12 national championship squad. The only player averaging under 70 percent from the charity stripe is EJ Montgomery at 64.3 percent. PJ Washington, aka Mr. 1-2, has improved his percentage from 60.6 percent last year to 72.1 percent so far this season.
Field Goal Percentage: 49.0% – Second Highest of the Calipari Era
Calipari believes this is his best shooting team, and so far, they rank behind only the 2009-10 squad in field goal percentage through 14 games. Kentucky’s shot over 50 percent in three of the last five games, so hopefully that number will continue to improve.
Opponent Field Goal Percentage: 42.9% – Highest of the Calipari Era
Kentucky’s defense has improved, but they’re still allowing their opponents to make 42.9 percent of their shots, the worst mark of the Calipari era. Not surprisingly, the 2014-15 team had the lowest opponent field goal percentage, 31.1 percent, but since then, Calipari’s squads have allowed their opponents to make 41.03 percent of their shots. Not a good trend.
Opponent Three-Point Field Goal Percentage: 38.9 percent – Second Highest of the Calipari Era
It may not feel like it, but so far, this team doesn’t have the worst perimeter defense of the Calipari Era. That honor goes to the 2015-16 squad, which allowed its opponents to make 40.8 percent from behind the arc at this point in the season; so far, this group is allowing 38.9 percent. After holding North Carolina and Louisville to 38.9 and 25 percent from three, respectively, Kentucky allowed Alabama and Texas A&M to make 43.5 and 47.1 percent from the outside. Oof.
Blocks: 76 – Fewest of the Calipari Era
Despite having two near-seven-footers in Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery, this team has the fewest blocks of the Calipari Era so far. Both Richards and Montgomery looked good vs. Texas A&M; hopefully their play continues to improve, because this team desperately needs rim protection.
Rebounds per game: 38.0 – Fewest of the Calipari Era
This is the one that probably makes Cal want to tear his hair out. This should be a great rebounding team, but so far, they’re only getting 38 boards per game, the fewest of the Calipari Era. PJ Washington and Reid Travis lead the team in rebounding with 8.1 and 6.1 per game, while the other big men, EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards, are only averaging 3.7 and 3.5 per game. Cal’s said it several times, but those numbers need to go up.
I’ll keep an eye on these numbers throughout the season to see how Kentucky improves. What stat stands out to you the most?